SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 06, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Glasgow

Region & Country:Europe | United Kingdom

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 6, 2019, an explosive device was reportedly sent to the University of Glasgow (UoG) as part of a series of apparently politically-motivated bombing attempts in the UK. No one was harmed as a result of the incident.

Authorities at UoG called police shortly before 11:00 AM on the day of the incident to report the presence of a suspicious package in the university’s mail room, addressed to the campus’ recruitment office for the British Army. University authorities promptly evacuated a number of campus buildings. Police arrived on the scene, confirmed the package contained an explosive device, and carried out a controlled detonation of the package. Most university buildings were re-opened later that day.

The incident occurred the day after three bombs were mailed to London’s Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, and the Waterloo train station, in London. Police have stated that they believe the incidents in Glasgow and London are linked given similarities in packaging materials and the explosive devices.

On March 11, British authorities announced that a group identifying itself as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had sent a message to a media outlet in Northern Ireland claiming responsibility for sending the Glasgow and London bombs. While authorities did not officially confirm the link to the IRA, they stated that the bombs sent to UoG and London transit stations bore similarities to explosives previously used by armed groups in Northern Ireland.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by an attempted attack on a higher education institution for apparent political motives. State authorities have a responsibility to ensure the safety of higher education communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of such attacks accountable. In addition to their potential harm, such attacks undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, the right to education, and democratic society generally.